The BFI brought out three films in which Michael Gothard had major roles, “Herostratus”, “The Devils” and “La Valleé.” The booklets that accompany and “Herostratus” (released 24/08/2009) and “La Valleé” (released 08/06/2009) both include sections about him, but while the notes in the “La Valleé” booklet include some material specifically related to his role in that film, the notes for "Herostratus” are basically the same.

These notes show a disappointing reliance on online sources, one of whom – Curtis Harrington – actively disliked Michael Gothard. A quotation from Harrington is even used to provide the title: “An interesting type.”

At best, this phrase, culled from a highly personal attack that Harrington launched on Gothard some years after his death, damns a very talented and unique actor – not a ‘type’ – with faint praise, and tends to discourage the reader from looking more closely at his work.

It is tempting to think that the reason this quotation was used, was that it was easy to find. It’s true that there was not much information about Michael Gothard available at the time the booklet on “Herostratus” was written, but a little research in a library reveals that John Glen, the Director of “For Your Eyes Only”, described him as “a captivating actor”1, and that Louis M. Heyward, the Executive Producer of “Scream and Scream Again” said: "I felt that Michael Gothard was going to be the biggest thing that ever happened. He had that insane look and that drive, and he was wonderful … He had a lot of class and a lot of style.”2

Either of these quotations could have more aptly supplied a title for Michael Gothard's mini-biography. Instead, Harrington’s quotation sets the tone for an article which is not only negative, but misleading.

Firstly, the statement that, “Michael Gothard’s choice of television and film roles illustrated the dark side of the 1960s and 70s” warrants scrutiny. The word “choice” assumes that at the start of his career, Michael had the pick of television and film roles - which seems unlikely – rather than having to take what was offered.

Secondly, even if he did, indeed, choose the roles he took on between 1967 and 1979, from among many, it cannot be said that all or even most of them illustrated the "darker side" of those times. An argument could be made for his roles in “Herostratus”, “Up the Junction”, “More”, “The Storyteller”, “The Excavation”, “La Vallée”, “Nine Bean Rows”, “Games People Play”, “Run for Your Money”, and “Stopover”, but even some of those are debatable, and not all of them are extant.

As for the rest: “The Machine Stops” is set in the future; “The Further Adventures of the Musketeers”, “Michael Kohlhaas”, “The Last Valley”, “The Devils”, “Arthur of the Britons”, “The Three and Four Musketeers”, and “Warrior Queen” are all set in the past. “Les Fleurs du Mal” is an escapist spy/crime drama, “Scream and Scream Again”, a horror/science fiction, “When the Spirit Moves You”, a supernatural comedy, “Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?” a thriller, and “Warlords of Atlantis” a fantasy adventure. It is hard to see how his role in any of these could illustrate the darker side of the 1960s and 70s.

The notes go on to describe Michael as having a “deep, hard voice.” In his work that post-dates “Up the Junction”, his voice was deep, but “hard” is not how most people would describe it. David Wickes, who directed him in “Jack the Ripper” and “Frankenstein”, spoke of “his soft, husky voice” which “was electrifying … he knew how to use it to maximum effect.”

The notes go further into the realms of fantasy when they state that Gothard was “usually cast in historical actioners, European arthouse or mind-bending genre movies, more often than not torn apart or committing the ‘elemental crime’ of suicide.”

It’s true that he was often cast in historical pieces: a total of twelve productions. Under the heading “European Arthouse” there seem to be only three films, “Herostratus”, “La Valleé”, and a non-speaking appearance in “More.” Mind-bending genre movies? Again, perhaps “Herostratus” is one of those, along with “Scream and Scream Again”, and “Lifeforce.”

However,this only constitutes seventeen productions: less than half of Michael Gothard’s forty-two roles. This doesn’t fulfill the description, “usually cast.”

But it is the final assertion in the sentence – that his characters are “more often than not torn apart or committing the ‘elemental crime’ of suicide’” – which is the most damaging, and the most lacking in substance. It is complete fabrication.

Even if one assumes that by “torn apart”, the writer means “conflicted”, rather than literally “torn apart” (which never happens), this statement has no basis in fact. Most of Michael’s characters show no sign of being conflicted, and certainly not to the extent of being “torn apart.” Many of them – Kuno, John, Weber, Hansen, Father Barré, Albie, Volthan, Gaspard, Locque, Terry Marvin, Karl Portillo, Strett, Stefan, Xaros – are unusually single-minded.

Of his 42 known film and TV roles, only six of them, Max (“Herostratus”), Ivan (“Games People Play”), Olivier (“La Valleé”), Kai (“Arthur of the Britons”), Felton (The “Musketeers” films) Athelstane (“Ivanhoe”) and Sergei (“From Fulham With Love”) ever suffer significant internal conflict. Only in Max and Olivier is it a basic character trait, rather than something arising from circumstances, and Olivier’s conflict is not a bad thing, but the result of intellectual curiosity and a refreshing capacity to step back from his sociological context.

As for the ‘elemental crime’ of suicide’: in “Herostratus”, Michael’s character, Max, intends to commit suicide, but changes his mind, then accidentally kills someone else. In “Scream and Scream Again”, as the artificially-created vampire, Keith, he jumps into a bath of acid to avoid capture, presumably because he has been programmed to do so, rather than from an actual desire to kill himself.

There is no other instance in his entire known canon of film and TV work, of a character Michael Gothard played committing suicide.

Even if, being charitable, we count all six of the conflicted characters, and add in Keith the vampire as a suicide, this makes a total of seven roles out of forty-two: one sixth does not constitute “more often than not.”

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the writer made these claims in a misguided attempt to make things seem neat and tidy - by telling the rather tired story of an actor and his roles becoming one and the same thing - rather than making the effort to find out the truth.

Another less important inaccuracy, is the claim that Michael Gothard appeared in “Vampyre.” He did not. It was intended that he should appear, but the project fell through, and was eventually resurrected without him.

Towards the end of the article, the writer describes Michael Gothard “momentarily acting opposite Marlon Brando” as if that were his finest hour, when it was more like Brando’s worst. In fact, Gothard was brought in as a possible replacement for Brando, whom John Glen thought unreliable, and in the end, Brando got terrible notices for the film.

Finally, the article says of Michael Gothard: “Overpowered by depression, he hanged himself at home in Hampstead, aged 53 and alone.”

We know that Michael Gothard had suffered from depression for most of his life, on and off, but his suicide was unexpected. Some friends suspect that prescription medication may have precipitated his suicide, but the truth of what was going on in his mind will probably never be known, so to claim, as fact, that he was “overpowered by depression” is pure speculation.

Naturally he was “alone” at the time when he killed himself – few people take their own lives in company. But the tacit implication of “aged 53 and alone” is that he was “alone” in his life, and this is completely wrong.

A lifelong musician, he often met up with fellow musicians for jamming sessions. He dated many beautiful women, and was an avid letter-writer, keeping in touch with old friends and girlfriends. While he seems – as far as the creators of this archive have been able to discover – to have had no contact with his father, and little with his mother, he did have close friends whom he regarded as family.

The writer of the notes in the BFI booklet could not have known all this at the time they wrote the article, so - presumably because Michael Gothard’s social life was not plastered all over the tabloids every day - they have made the mistake of interpreting his whole life in the light of his final act, and suggesting that he was living a solitary and miserable existence. This is both misleading, and insulting to him and to his friends. It would have been better to be honest, and simply say, “Little is known of his private life”, but that wouldn’t have fitted in with story the writer wanted to tell.


1 "For My Eyes Only: My Life with James Bond”, by John Glen. (2001)
2 Interview with Louis M. Heyward by Gary A. Smith, in “Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976.” (2006)
Houston Chronicle: “Nobody’s ever done a Frankenstein like this one and nobody’s ever done a better one.”

Wall Street Journal: “None of the previous Frankenstein films was as frightening as this.”

Rick Kogan in the Chicago Tribune, 11 June 1993

Monstrous Dignity
Tnt's Adaptation Of `Frankenstein' Is One Of The Best

… the latest version of "Frankenstein" is … certainly one of the best screen translations of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel …

The story is told in flashback from the point at which Frankenstein has tracked his creation across 1,000 miles of frozen wilderness and is taken aboard an ice-locked boat.

The incredulous sea captain listens as the doctor spins his tale of the monster's escape from the laboratory and how, after the two became separated, each has an idyllic summer, Frankenstein in the sumptuous country house of his betrothed, the monster at the cottage of a kindly old blind man (John Mills) who teaches him the joys of nature and wood-chopping, as well as a few words.

Danger intrudes, forcing the creature deeper into the forest and eventually back into Frankenstein's world …

Directed, written and produced by David Wickes, who sharpened his sense for horror by directing ABC's "Jekyll & Hyde" and CBS' "Jack the Ripper," this "Frankenstein" holds fairly firmly to Shelley's original, thus giving us much who-gets-to-play-God? meat upon which to chew ...

Full review

Cavett Binion, All Movie Guide

Filmed in Eastern Europe, this direct-to-cable adaptation of Mary Shelley's iconographic monster tale features Patrick Bergin as Victor Frankenstein, a medical genius obsessed with the secret of creating life, who uses a bizarre cloning apparatus to grow a complete human being (Randy Quaid) from his own cellular material …

… production values are admirably high and performances are superb throughout …

Full review


There have been so many versions of this story made that it would almost seem superflous to make another, yet this is the best version that I have seen because it is the most faithful to Mary Shelly's book. I saw the classic 1931 version where Karloff was the monster and he would have been proud of Quaid's performance …

He does a remarkable job of making the monster both scary and pitiful as society treats him so badly.

This is a great film and with the exception of Karloff's version, it is the best Frankenstein that I have ever seen.


I really enjoyed this movie, far, far more than the over the top Kenneth Branagh version. Randy Quaid is fabulous as the monster. I particularly loved the monster in this film, as he was very sweet and childlike until he had negative experiences with humans. His expressions were very poignant and heartfelt. Also, the concept of Frankenstein feeling his monster's pain was original and interesting. Definitely impressive for a made-for-tv movie!

Jonathon Dabell

Forgotten version of the Mary Shelley novel - it doesn't deserve to have fallen into obscurity (but it has).

Director David Wickes was responsible for the horrible David Essex vanity project Silver Dream Racer. With this in mind, you could be forgiven for expecting this 1992 made-for-TV update of the oft-filmed Frankenstein story to be a somewhat trite affair. Surprisingly, this is a pretty good version of the tale. Indeed, it is actually better than the high profile Kenneth Branagh version that was released around 18 months later …

Wickes is extremely faithful to his source novel, more so than virtually all film-makers who have gone before him. He cuts out occasional bits of Mary Shelley's narrative, and makes the odd change here and there, but on the whole this is as close to Shelley's story as a film version has ever been.

Bergin is a revelation as Dr. Frankenstein. Usually a solid but unspectacular character actor, here he gives one of his best-ever performances as the ambitious scientist. On paper, Quaid sounds a terrible choice for the part of the monster … but in actual fact he is superb as the monster, registering anguish and pity from beneath layers of heavy make-up. At two hours, the film is paced well and moves briskly without sacrificing character or plot development …

It seems surprising that this film has faded into obscurity, for it is very well-made and admirably faithful to its source book. If you are fortunate enough to find, it is well worth viewing.

More IMDB reviews
Roger Ebert in Chicago Sun-Times: August 24, 1992

"Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" makes a voyage of its own, back through time to the 1930s and 1940s, when costume dramas were made with energy and style. Something seems to have gotten lost in the years between. This movie takes one of history's great stories and treats it in such a lackluster manner that Columbus' voyage seems as endless to us as it did to his crew.
Read more... )

Grann-Bach from Denmark

… This flick is simply put one of the best arguments for why you should not base viewing choices upon the cast alone. There are *amazing* actors in this, and they are utterly wasted.

Full review
John Glen’s “Christopher Columbus: The Discovery” was one of two films about Columbus to be released in the same year, the other being Ridley Scott’s “1492: Conquest of Paradise.” In Glen’s film, Michael Gothard was cast as the Inquisitor’s spy, his scenes apparently being filmed in the UK and Spain.

Michael had worked for the film’s producers, Alexander and Ilya Salkind on “The Three/Four Musketeers” (1973), and John Glen had directed him as the villain, Emile Locque in “For Your Eyes Only” (1981).

In correspondence, John Glen had this to say:

‘I cast Michael Gothard in "For Your Eyes Only" and he contributed many ideas on this, my first effort as a Bond director … I remember him as a very pleasant person as well as a fine actor …

When Marlon Brando was cast in "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" I decided I would need a back up in the event Marlon decided not to turn up on the set. I thought of Michael to play his assistant. He would take Marlon's lines and I would shoot in such a way that I could isolate him and continue to shoot the scene with the other actors.

In fact, this happened on day one, much to Tom Selleck's displeasure. Fortunately Marlon decided to turn up on day 2 and I was able to complete the scene. Marlon was a very nice man and I think Tom Selleck's disappointment prompted him to co-operate ... or perhaps it was the thought of losing his lines to Michael Gothard. In any event it worked.

I was shocked to hear of Michael's untimely death.’

There is further detail on this incident in “From Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Brando, Hopper, Beatty, and Nicholson,” by Robert Sellers.

“When Glen began shooting Marlon's scenes there was an immediate problem. The great man didn't turn up. ‘I was anticipating trouble. When you're a director you have to box a little clever sometimes and I'd cast a very good actor called Michael Gothard as Brando's assistant, the idea being that if Marlon didn't turn up any time I would put Gothard in. And sure enough, on the first day, Marlon was a no-show, so I put Michael in and he took Marlon's lines.'

Marlon's invisibility on the set that first day caused ructions amongst the cast, notably with Tom Selleck, who approached Glen that evening.

'John,' he said, 'I admire your work, but really the only reason I did this film was because Marlon Brando was going to be in it. Now he's not turned up and he's not gonna play the thing, I'm not going to do it anymore, I'm off.'

A bit taken aback, Glen replied, 'I appreciate your honesty, Tom, and wish you all the best.' Obviously word filtered back to Marlon that Selleck had walked out and that another actor was delivering his dialogue. 'Because Brando turned up the next day,' says Glen. 'Actors being actors, they hate to lose their lines, and I just re-shot that section. Naturally Tom Selleck re-appeared, too.'"

The film had various release dates in 1992: 20 August in Germany, 21 August in the USA, and 11 September in the UK.

The reviews for “Christopher Columbus: The Discovery” were less than complimentary. One can only hope that Michael Gothard took some comfort in the fact that the critics’ scathing comments were reserved for Marlon Brando, Tom Selleck, George Corraface and Director, John Glen.

As Brando received the worst notices, it seems a shame that Gothard wasn’t given all his lines, but then, Brando was supposed to be the star.

IMDB entry
"The Devils" was shown on Sky at 1.50 am on Wednesday 8 May 1991.

The Daily Express called it "Controversial and stunning."
“The Serpent of Death”, also known as “Out of Time”, is an archaeological thriller, filmed in Greece and Egypt in 1989.

The US video premiere was 6 December 1990, and it was released under various titles in West Germany, Portugal, Egypt, Greece, and Finland.

The role of Xaros gave Michael Gothard another opportunity to travel to exotic places, but he must have been less than delighted to be playing yet another hit-man, especially one with so few redeeming qualities.


Jake Bonner (Jeff Fahey), the supposed hero of the film, is an unscrupulous archaeology student, who thinks nothing of damaging historical sites and relics. He finds a sculpted head of Alexander at the bottom of the sea, breaks it open, just to see what’s inside, and finds a small carved snake, which he believes is a clue that will lead him to a hidden and forgotten hoard of Alexander’s treasure.

Omar (Gamil Ratib), a dealer in antiquities, for whom Jake does occasional identification work, hears about this, and decides to get the treasure for himself, with the help of cold-blooded hired killer, Xaros (Michael Gothard).

Xaros mistakenly kills Jake’s friend and colleague, Donald, strangling him with a string of beads – his trademark method of killing. When Omar expresses surprise at seeing Jake alive, when he thought he was dead, Xaros, unphased, simply says ‘Someone is.’

Omar and Xaros pursue Jake, and a girl he has recently met, Rene (Camilla More), from Greece, to, and across, Egypt.

Xaros kills a number of people who get in their way, including the henchmen of millionaire Stavros, who is also interested in Alexander’s legacy. Xaros even threatens a little girl who happens to live with one of Rene’s friends, to get information.

Xaros kills an old expert to whom Jake has taken his carved snakes for examination, and his assistant, but the clues Xaros brings back to Omar are fakes. Omar is annoyed, but Xaros just shrugs, and says he isn’t in the resurrection business.

Eventually Omar and Xaros catch Rene on her own, steal the genuine relics from her, and set off after the treasure; this time with Jake and Rene in pursuit.

Thinking to find the treasure himself now he has the clues, Xaros leaves his employer, Omar, dying on the road.

Jake and Rene find Xaros’ car crashed into some abandoned World War II tanks. He seems to be dead. They wait until dawn before going to check, but Xaros has more patience, and Jake falls into his trap, and loses a fight with him.

Xaros thanks Jake for supplying him with both a vehicle, and a woman. But while Xaros is trying to rape Rene, she throws a snake – left in a bag the back of the truck by her zoologist friend – into his face, and he is fatally bitten.

With three minutes to live, Xaros shoots out their tyres, but – while still trying to kill them – steps on a landmine, and is blown up.

This may be the most ridiculous death any of Michael’s characters has suffered.

All the killing is pointless in the end, because Nikos, the disaffected son of the millionaire Stavros, kills himself and consigns both his own body, and the treasure, to the sea.

Review in TV Guide
Read more... )

Watch extracts, including Michael Gothard’s scenes as Xaros on Youtube.

IMDB entry
“Capital City” was a show about the lives and loves of a group of city bond traders working at fictional company, Shane Longman. It was shown in the UK, The Netherlands, Canada and elsewhere.

From the DVD cover notes:

“Originally broadcast in 1989, “Capital City” was a huge success, giving a realistic insight into the fast-paced life at an international bank. Set in the offices of London-based Shane Longman, the charismatic team of bankers are hired for their blend of style, intelligence and verve. They take risks, and thrive on the pressure of closing the deal.”

Michael Gothard appeared in episode 11: “Twelve Degrees Capricorn”, which was first broadcast in the UK on 5 December 1989.

Michael Gothard’s role in “Twelve Degrees Capricorn.”

“… Sirkka [Joanna Kanska] finds her own ultimately dangerous way of relieving the feelings of frustration she is currently feeling regarding her inability to read the financial market. After a particularly difficult day she unwinds by stopping off at a nearby bar that sells her current favourite tipple, ‘lemon vodka’.

Whilst there she is propositioned by Stefan [Michael Gothard], a Swiss Trade Commission representative and – enjoying what she considers another way of relieving the tedium of her trading existence – she arranges to sleep with him for money.

… however this initial thrill of Sirkka’s one night stand then turns sinister when Stefan locates where she works and continues to phone her.

… she breezes onto the trading floor, attempting to put these dalliances behind her, to the strains of saxophone laced confident incidental music ready for the day ahead. However with cards, flowers and ultimately a personal visit … Stefan initially proves a difficult person to dissuade.”

Full review from series fan, Sarah Tarrant, on TV Gold


£500 £500 (2)

Swiss Trade Commission representative, Stefan (Michael Gothard), watches as Sirkka Nieminen (Joanna Kanska)
sits alone in her favourite bar, drinking lemon vodka.

£500 (3) £500 (7)
Read more... )

Watch clips featuring Michael Gothard as Stefan on Youtube.

IMDB entry

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: “A perfect whodunit.”

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: “Jack the Ripper lashes the viewer with the insistent thrust of a Dickensian epic.”

SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER: “This carefully wrought, brightly scripted movie manages the near impossible.”


Glenn Erickson on DVD Savant

… The story of Jack the Ripper continues to fascinate audiences. The famous 1888 London serial murder case was documented in detail, killing by bloody killing. Forensic evidence, including photographs of the murder sites and the victims, are a matter of public record. As the killer's identity was never discovered the case is still controversial, with scores of hypothetical solutions. Social reformers used the killings to bring attention to the horrible living conditions in crowded lower-class areas of the city. Author Jack London wrote scathing essays based on his observances of poverty and squalor in Whitechapel, the district where the Ripper killings took place …

The most satisfactory historical effort so far is this lavish two-part TV miniseries from Euston Films, Thames Television and Lorimar. It was produced for the centennial of the killings … and made news for its rare TV appearance by Michael Caine. Caine praised writer-producer-director David Wickes, for whom this was actually a second go at the story. Wickes had directed a previous English TV show on the same subject in 1973, that was applauded for sticking to the facts of the case.

The Jack the Ripper miniseries has its factual flaws and anachronisms but by and large is an exciting and complex large-scale recounting of the murders. The three-hour running time gives plenty of elbow room to sketch out political elements of the story usually omitted, such as the activities of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee …

Chief Scotland Yard Inspector Fred Abberline (Michael Caine) must climb back on the wagon when he's assigned the Whitechapel murder case, a horrific mutilation murder. Under the watchful eye of his superiors, Abberline and his partner Sgt. George Godley (Lewis Collins) engage the help of Robert Lees, a psychic (Ken Bones), prostitutes Kate Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly (Susan George & Lysette Anthony) and sketch artist Emma Prentiss (Jane Seymour), a previous sweetheart of Abberline's. As the murders mount so does the pressure to put an end to the case -- public uproar is turning ugly. Fred and George investigate the famous American actor Richard Mansfield (Armand Assante), who nightly transforms from Jekyll to Hyde before terrified audiences. But the only consistent clues that Abberline can put together point in a very sensitive direction --- to someone involved with the Royal Family ...

The dapper Fred Abberline must answer to closed-mouthed bureaucrats concerned that he'll get drunk and fumble the case. Out in the streets he's confronted by coarse working men, arrogant criminals and Marxist agitators. A nervy reporter (Jonathan Moore) openly fans the flames of scandal. Abberline is inundated with opportunists, gadflies and obstructionists. Adding to his troubles, the local police are anxious to discredit him as well.

Numerous actors serve as transparent red herrings, while Inspector Abberline pursues the case as best he can. Local police cynically "round up the usual suspects" to give the impression that they're doing something constructive. Fred's superiors remove bodies and clean up a murder site in an attempt to keep a lid on a case that can cost them their jobs. When a shoemaker's apron is found at a murder site, the police are forced to lock up leather workers to protect them from lynching by the Vigilante Committees ...

The presence of Michael Caine helped producer Wickes attract a superior cast. Armand Assante is properly suave as the high-toned actor. He's greatly aided by some anachronistic but startling makeup effects. Jane Seymour is on hand to offer a romantic possibility for Abberline, and Susan George and Lysette Anthony are women of the night terrified at the thought of becoming the Ripper's next prey. Cult actor Michael Gothard (Herostratus, The Devils, For Your Eyes Only) plays George Lusk, the rabble-rousing leader of the Whitechapel Vigilantes. I think Gothard has more dialogue here than in the rest of his filmography put together.1

Full review

1 A blatant exaggeration, but it makes a valid point about the under-use of Michael’s talent.


At-A-Glance Film Reviews

In 1888, when the real life Jack the Ripper was caught, the court records were ordered to be vaulted for one hundred years and the details of the case kept confidential. This film claims to be based on these top secret Home Office files; the filmmakers believe their ending the correct solution to the mystery.

Accurate or not, this is an outstanding film, especially so given that it was made for television. The character portrayals are solid, as is the screenplay, but the acting -- top notch work from nearly everyone -- takes the spotlight. Michael Caine, who plays the lead detective on the case, won a well-deserved Golden Globe for his performance.

At-A-Glance Film Reviews


Television Heaven

… Wickes wrote, directed and produced 'Jack The Ripper' for the Euston Films/Thames Television partnership, responsible for 'The Sweeney' over a decade earlier. It was made for television and was screened in two parts, the first on Tuesday 11th October 1988 and the second concluding instalment following a week later on October 18th. Each instalment began at 9pm but took a break at 10pm allowing transmission of ITN's 'News At Ten', often the custom for the ITV network …

The mini-series boasted extremely high production values for a British television programme and had an all-star cast. Playing the lead role of Inspector Frederick Abberline was Michael Caine, in his first acting role for British television for twenty years. Caine had spent most of the 1980s resident in America, so his casting represented a considerable coup for the production team. Playing his sidekick Sgt George Godley was former 'Professionals' star Lewis Collins.

Both Inspector Abberline and Sergeant Godley were real-life people, as indeed were most of the characters in this drama. And Abberline was without doubt at the centre of the Ripper investigation - but the drama takes liberties with his character. In fact, from the moment when we are introduced to Abberline as an alcoholic with crumbling respect from his fellow policemen the alarm bells start ringing and rightly so - for despite the wealth of research that went into this production it is at best a badly warped version of history and at worst 99% fiction …

Abberline then becomes suspicious of police surgeon Dr Rees Llewelyn (Michael Hughes) on account of him initially missing the victim's abdominal mutilations. Next he gets a visit from Queen Victoria's personal clairvoyant, Robert Lees (Ken Bones), who claims to have had visions of the killer, which leads to the detective paying attention to American actor Richard Mansfield (Armand Assante), then performing on the London stage in "Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde". Such is his convincing performance of playing a man who can be sane one moment and insane the next, Mansfield immediately becomes a top suspect! And just to confirm his theory, Abberline seeks advice from the Queen's surgeon Sir William Gull (Ray McAnally) who agrees that it is theoretically possible for a man to switch between sanity and insanity.

The next victim, Annie Chapman, is found in Hanbury Street and Abberline continues to quiz Dr Llewelyn who takes exception to being suspected. So Abberline suspects him even more. Then Lees is run over by a coach and informs Abberline about it. Not just any coach, but a black coach with a crest on its side. The Royal coach. Checking to see if the coach has been out lately, Godley by chance gets talking to coach driver John Nettley (George Sweeney) who tells him how clever he is and how he has been teaching himself medical and anatomical knowledge. Another suspect.

Meanwhile the public have been outraged by the murders and a vigilante committee has been set up by George Lusk (Michael Gothard), whilst in reality Lusk and his committee mainly acted as street patrollers and helped to set up reward money for the capture of the killer, in this production they are an unruly mob bent on revolution and overthrowing the police and the monarchy!

The Central News Agency receives a letter from a 'Jack The Ripper', claiming to be the killer. Abberline believes that it is genuine because it refers to cutting off the victim's ears, something that happened with the last murder but, on Abberline's instructions, was withheld from the press. Another piece of fiction because the extant photo of Chapman's body shows her ears intact! September 30th brings two more murders - Liz Stride and Kate Eddowes (Susan George). This time we see the killers in action. Yes, KILLERS because it is the work of two men - the driver of the royal coach and its mysterious passenger. Dr Llewelyn, Mr Lees and Mr Mansfield all start behaving more suspiciously and just to make matters worse George Lusk's mob make the Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Charles Warren, decide to resign. And then Superintendent Arnold, Head of H Division, begins acting suspiciously too ...

… "Jack The Ripper" is nothing more than a dramatisation based on real-life events and should not be regarded as fact. Its plot failings are compensated for through good production values and its strong cast and is an enjoyable, if not classic, piece of British television that is perhaps more likely to satisfy those who know little about the Ripper crimes than those who are better informed, though until something better comes along Ripperologists will keep coming back to this one.

The original transmission of the opening episode broke into the top ten ratings for that week, being watched by 14.1 million viewers, an excellent achievement given its timeslot.

Full review


Hal Erikson on Rotten Tomatoes

The TV movie Jack the Ripper endeavors to shed new light on one of the most notorious unsolved cases in history. The Ripper, of course, was the London serial killer who, in 1888, killed and disemboweled five prostitutes.

Michael Caine stars not as the Ripper but as a Scotland-Yard inspector who is assigned to the case. The trail of evidence leads Caine to some astonishing suspects--including at least one member of the Royal Family.

As the public clamors for an arrest in the case of the unsolved evisceration murders of five East End prostitutes, Abberline narrows down his list of suspects: the four most likely to have committed the murders, according to the inspector, are American-actor Richard Mansfield (Armand Assante), Queen Victoria's personal psychic (Ken Bones), a certain Dr. Acland (Richard Morant) and socialist-gadfly Lusk (Michael Gothard).

The British government is also pressuring Abberline to produce the killer. Unfortunately, if Abberline were to publicly release all the clues at his disposal, the revelation would probably rock the Empire to its foundations.

Rotten Tomatoes


Digital Fix

… The production value reflects the fresh injection of cash with most of the money seemingly going into the sets and the period costumes - the global feel is not really that of a TV drama but rather a film though the plotting and script betrays its TV origin with unnecessary cliff-hangers cropping up regularly for US ad-breaks. The film was originally split into two parts to be shown on different nights and the DVD echoes that by not merging both parts together ...

The direction is generally quite good with most of the cast performing well... The general speed of the film does seem a little slow at times and would have been substantially edited were it a cinema release but the overall quality of the production makes it a good piece of well researched TV drama that stands up to repeated viewings and the test of time.

Full review

On ‘80’s Movies Rewind, Steve Alsberg reports: ‘The film was made because Colgate-Stone (the Producer) who was a capitol equipment leasor (fleets of planes, ships, etc.) had made a large amount of money on a deal in Denmark, and the Danish government required him to spend a portion of his gains in Denmark.

He knew James Clarke, the Writer/Director, socially, and Stone asked if he (Clark) had a script that could be adapted to use Denmark as a location, Clark said he did, and the rest is history.

Myself and my partner did the set construction for the picture including 6 weeks in Copenhagen.’

80’s Movies Rewind

Synopsis by Sandra Brennan

A bungling gumshoe tries hard to affect a hard-boiled demeanor, despite the fact that his latest assignment is to protect the bratty young heiress to a fortune in this lively spoof of detective movies.

Henry Brilliant, Private Eye, is no stranger to the ways of the wealthy as he too comes from a blue-blooded family, but he tries to ignore that to become the classic Chandleresque detective as he heads for Europe to follow the girl on her tour and keep her from being kidnapped by her stepmother, who is really after her husband's secret formula for controlling the weather.

NY Times

Michael Gothard plays Strett, one of the evil stepmother Maxine De La Hunt’s motley crew of henchmen, and evidently the best of the bunch as he survives longer than any of the others, as well as outliving his employer.

Former girlfriend N.B. recalls: ‘For the film "Yellow Pages" we went to Copenhagen in September 1984. That's where Michael was filming for several weeks. I was accompanying him, and met the people on the set, i.e. Chris Lemmon and Lea Thompson. Lemmon flew in only shortly. Copenhagen was the only place he went to for this film. The parts in the USA were made without him.’

The film is generally considered poor, but is reasonably diverting. However, Michael has little to do; he helps kidnap Marigold on behalf of her stepmother, looks menacing, and later chases Henry and Marigold on a roller-coaster in the Tivoli Gardens, where his character – as so often – dies a gruesome death.


Sian Thatcher on 80’s Movies Rewind

This film had potential and a talented cast. It’s a shame the script is so poor and they couldn’t just choose a genre and stick with it.

80’s Movies Rewind


TV guide

An unsubtle spoof of detective films, GOING UNDERCOVER features Chris Lemmon as Henry Brilliant, a handsome blueblood who turns his back on high society and struggles mightily to make a living as a hard-boiled private eye.

Wealthy Maxine De La Hunt (Jean Simmons) offers him a tidy sum to guard her high-spirited stepdaughter, Marigold (Lea Thompson), from possible kidnapping on a European tour.

Marigold continually gives Brilliant the slip and makes his life a living hell. Eventually, she is indeed kidnapped, the plot gets twisty, and the formula becomes escape, pursuit, evasion.

Aimed at the Brat Packer audience, GOING UNDERCOVER clumsily grafts elements of a college sex comedy onto the private eye genre. The result is bound to bore audiences of all ages.

Establishing the proper combination of thrills and laughter for a light-hearted suspense film is tricky. GOING UNDERCOVER fails to achieve the difficult balance that distinguished FOUL PLAY or CHARADE, for example, and emerges as neither suspenseful nor amusing. Only veteran Jean Simmons, as the stepmother, lends any finesse to these second-rate spy shenanigans.

TV Guide


Joanna Berry in the Radio Times

This uneven comedy was made in 1984, but for some odd reason (because it was a clunker, perhaps?) remained unseen for four years. Back to the Future star Lea Thompson is the spoilt brat on a trip to Europe who is kept under surveillance by Chris Lemmon, a private eye so unskilled that she gets kidnapped right under his nose. Incredibly silly stuff …

Full review


rsoonsa on IMDB

Completed in 1984 but not released until four years after, this English production offers little of value. Apparently designed to be a pastiche of the hard boiled detective category of cinema, the work features Chris Lemmon as Henry Brilliant, ineffective private investigator who finds difficulty in obtaining employment other than locating lost pets.

His luck appears to improve when wealthy Maxine de la Hunt (Jean Simmons) allegedly selects him directly from his advertisement in telephone yellow pages and offers Henry $2000 per week plus expenses to serve as bodyguard for her stepdaughter Marigold (Lea Thompson) during a European travel junket for co-eds ...

Dangerous adventures lack meaning to a viewer when a production fails to provide a sense of purpose, as in this instance. A motif of scientific espionage involving Marigold's father appears but its connection to the remainder of the storyline is put to bed by heavy cutting.

Originally titled YELLOW PAGES, released with that name in the United Kingdom and upon the Continent, this weak effort is known as GOING UNDERCOVER in the United States, where it ostensibly has acquired a minor cult following, although one wonders why, as there is minimal wit or imagination to be found in it.

Simmons, billed first, is as polished as ever, but Lemmon and Thompson are given the greatest amount of screen time with Lemmon rather charismatic when he is able to avoid the mugging that tarnished his father Jack's performances.

Direction is largely pedestrian with no apparent point of view. The majority of the film's drawbacks follow from the director's own script that bounces about in a generally fatuous manner amid themes of comedy, suspense, satire, et alia.

Full review on IMDB


The Mysterious Traveler

A bumbling Los Angeles Private Investigator is hired to be the bodyguard of the bratty yet attractive daughter of a famous scientist as she takes a cultural tour of Europe. Soon he finds himself entangled in a Soviet plot to control the weather.

A simply hideous "comedy" spy thriller that is wretched on every possible level save one. When 80s films went bad, they went bad in gruelling ways and this film is as good...bad example as any.

Over-lit, cheap-looking, badly edited, sub-literate script and just boring, the film also poorly acted by a resigned cast incapable of doing anything with the material and a lead whose talent is extremely suspect.

It is truly depressing to see Simmons, Gothard and [Adam] West trapped in this thing. West must have had his name taken off the credits since his appearance was a complete surprise.

The only ... and I do mean ONLY bright spot is Lea Thompson as the bratty scientist's daughter. Though why coming out of RED DAWN and in the middle of the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy, she agreed to appear in this horror, I cannot say but whenever she is on the screen, the dreary proceedings perk up considerably. Sexy, radiant and surprisingly well dressed … it is obvious that she is a star and going places. Meanwhile it is equally obvious that Chris Lemmon - Jack's son - is not.

Further reviews on Amazon

Watch Going Undercover/Yellow Pages on Youtube.

IMDB entry
Bond films, by their nature, lend themselves to the creation of character profiles for the characters, both heroes and villains, and Emile Leopold Locque is no exception. Here are a few of the profiles created for him.


Emile Leopold Locque is a henchman working for Aris Kristatos in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, played by Michael Gothard. He is a brutal killer who was originally a part of a drug syndicate in Hong Kong, eventually becoming an enforcer in the Brussels underworld. He was arrested and sent to prison in Namur, Belgium; however, he broke out after strangling his psychiatrist.

In a scene in which Bond is skiing, Locque forces Bond down the slope, where another man attempts to kill him. Bond escapes, however. Locque is also the man Bond saw at the home of Hector Gonzalez, the hit man who killed Melina Havelock's parents.

Locque returns later and kills Luigi Ferrara, Bond's Italian contact. He is finally killed when he is shot in the chest, causing him to wreck his car. The gunshot does not kill him. As his car is hanging over the edge of the cliff, Bond tosses a small medallion at him, and then kicks the car over the cliff. This move by Bond is debatable among Fleming's fans about whether or not the Bond in the series of novels would kill in cold blood in that fashion.

More details here.

Profile on James Bond Multimedia

Emile Leopold Locque played by Michael Gothard is the third villain of For Your Eyes Only … A known enforcer in the Brussels underworld, Locque is a cold-blooded convicted murderer that escapes from prison by strangling his psychiatrist. An assassin hired by Aristotle Kristatos, Locque leaves small dove pins with his victims to implicate Kristatos’ arch-enemy Milos Columbo. Locque is another villain who is silent, but especially with his metal octagonal glasses looks very intimidating.

Bond, Columbo and his men … track Locque to a warehouse in Albania, where they flush him out. In an excellent scene Bond chases Locque in his car on foot using a series of tunnels and short cuts to emerge just in front of him. Taking his time to line up the target hurtling towards him, Bond hits Locque sending his car spinning out of control balancing dangerously on the edge of a cliff. Locque is killed when Bond coldly gives the car a good kick of the cliff after saying a few final words to him.

More details here.

Profile on MI6 website

Emile Leopold Locque is Kristatos' right hand man. The cold-blooded killer has been known to be involved in drug syndicates in Marseille and Hong Kong. His calling-card is a dove-shaped lapel pin which he normally punctures his victims’ skin or clothing with post mortem.

A sly and vicious killer, Locque is the perfect associate for the greasy but seemingly innocent Kristatos. Tasked with the more hands-on duties of the smuggler's intricate business, Locque delights in his work. His last post was as an enforcer in a prominent Brussels-based mafia, before going freelance and winding up with Kristatos.

Little else is known of the killer. A man of very few words but when he does talk it is to the point and always about business. A presumed psychopath, the goon has grown somewhat controllable under the ever-vigilant watch of Aris Kristatos.


Locque is first spied by James Bond when he delivers a payoff to Hector Gonzales, who had brutally gunned down Melina Havelock's parents (really agents for the British Government). Bond watches from his place in the undergrowth as Locque brings payment and when things turn heated, the goon kills one of Gonzales' guests. The villain is quick to react when Gonzales is murdered by the lovely, yet deadly, Melina Havelock - out for revenge. Locque takes the cash and escapes the scene with ease.

He pops up again in Cortina, where 007 is meeting with the local MI6 agent on the scene, Luigi Ferrara. He watches on as Eric Kriegler, the "boyfriend" of Bibi Dahl, attempt to assassinate 007 in a high-paced ski chase. Locque also organises the killing of Countess Lisl, with his team of dune buggies.

After Kriegler fails to take care of 007 and his MI6 cohort, Locque takes matters into his own hands by killing Ferrara in cold blood. This angers the British spy and Bond has his revenge after he discovers who the assassin is working for.

Locque is on the scene when Bond and Columbo raid Kristatos' warehouse. Bond gives chase as the villain escapes by planting a bomb.

Ultimately, Locque reaches a nasty end. He is shot several times by Bond whilst trying to flee. Later, 007 gives his vehicle the boot from a teetering cliff top. Before Locque dies, Bond "returns" the dove pin Locque left with Bond's ally, Ferrara.

More details here.

the full wiki

He is not heard to speak during the film, although he is not mute: at one point, he is seen speaking into a car phone (although his voice is never heard), and he screams in terror in his final scene.

More details here

And finally, one for the spoof version of the character from Mad Magazine:

E-Film Critic

Michael Gothard as the ruthless hitman Locque gives the film a cold core of villainy the main villain perhaps lacks, saying a lot with no dialogue at all.

This is the first Bond film in an age, that's genuinely tough and gritty. This is best represented in Moore's best performance as Bond. Gone are the quips and smugness that ruined his performance in 'Moonraker', and instead we have a toughness, edge and depth that was Connery's trademark. Just watch the scene where he disposes of an assassin by quietly reminding him of who he's killed before his face twists and he boots him off a cliff. It's a remarkable scene and Moore's single-best moment as Bond.

Full review

Ajay Singh

As the vengeful Melina, Glen cast French actress Carole Boquet who gave a strong and magnetic performance, a perfect foil for Moore. Renowned British actor Julian Glover played the villain of the piece, Aris Kristatos giving him great charm and panache over a heart of stone.

Kristatos is nakedly out for anything he can get and doesn’t care what he has to do to achieve his goals. Michael Gothard is silent and sinister as henchman Loque, making the most out of a role with no dialogue.

Full review

DVD Verdict

The role of the Villain's Helper is divided into two characters, with Michael Gothard as Emil Locque (whose looks and evil silence are enough) and John Wyman as Erich Kriegler (whose athletic prowess makes him a worthy 007 opponent).

Full review

The Escapist

As for the bad guys, the main one is Aris Kristatos ... He is a smuggler of various illicit goods, and plans to get his hands on ATAC and sell it to the Russians for money … Julian Glover has quite a bit of charisma, playing his role believably. You could see why Bond initially believed his story that a business rival, Milos Columbo … was the one trying to get his hands on ATAC. However, as the movie gets further along, you see his colder side, showing that he is truly the villain, and that any charm he has is only to further his own goals.

The other main villain is Emile Locque (played by Michael Gothard of the 1973 version of "The Three Musketeers") ... he plays the role of a hitman quite well, despite looking like a less nerdy version of Bill Gates, and never talking. He has an air about him that makes you take him seriously as a villain.

It's a shame he dies halfway through, being replaced with the KGB agent Eric Kriegler (John Wyman of "Revenge of the Pink Panther"). Wyman does all right, but he never seemed as much of a threat as Gothard, especially after a temper tantrum earlier in the movie.

Full review

Surrender to the Void

The casting by Debbie McWilliams and Maude Spector is incredible for the ensemble that is created … John Wyman is very good as the henchman Erich Kriegler who is proven to be a formidable opponent for Bond while Michael Gothard is also good as the mysterious killer Emile Leopold Locque.

Full review

Sticky Trigger Entertainment

His moments with Melina, warning her of the dangers of revenge, carry a thematic weight because it seems like Bond is dropping the act. Similarly, his brutal execution of Locque is easily the darkest moment of Moore's tenure and one of the most gripping. With barely a word of dialogue, Moore communicates the kind of moral toll that a licence to kill may take on a man's soul, whilst also saying that this is personal and for once, he's going to enjoy it. It's his best performance by a long shot and his most interesting spin on the character of James Bond; sadly, this film is the only one where he gets to let it loose.

Highlight: It's a tie between Bond kicking a car off a cliff and Bond climbing up to the monastery.

Full review

Rambles: Tom Knapp

Rather than settling for a single, obvious megalomaniacal villain, For Your Eyes Only gives us two suspicious rivals (Julian Glover as Aristotle Kristatos and Topol as Milos Colombo) and allows us to guess at which is really the bad guy.

Add a sinister assassin (Michael Gothard as Emil Locque), a murderous skier (John Wyman as Erich Kriegler) and a sex-crazed American skater (Lynn-Holly Johnson as Bibi), who is too young for even Bond's broad tastes, and you have a cast who'll keep you watching and guessing throughout the film. Rather than hit us over the head again with plots to rule (or annihilate) the entire world, Eyes provides a more believable, realistic scenario which is a suspenseful pleasure to watch.

Full review


Emile Locque played by Michael Gothard is Kristatos’ other henchman. A hired assassin who organises the deaths of the Havelocks as well as killing Columbo’s mistress in a vicious attack using high powered beach buggies to run her down. Locque is most well known for providing Moore with his game changing scene on the edge of a cliff and while his appearance is deceptively placid he is one of the most brutal henchmen of the series so far.

While there is still room for Moore’s trademark quips they are toned down in favour of a Bond more akin to early Connery than the excessive seventies style Bond. Moore shows a side to the character that has rarely been seen until this point giving him a mean, vengeful streak.

This is most evident in a scene where he has a choice to save or kill the lead henchman, Emile Locque, as his car hangs on the edge of a cliff. As Locque has been responsible for the death of two of Bond’s close associates he chooses to kick the car away from the cliff edge providing Locque with a painful death and marking a brutal change in Bond’s approach.

Full review
In “Warlords of Atlantis”, Michael Gothard plays Atmir, a minor dignitary and spokesperson for a race of alien Nazis from Mars, whose space-ship crashed on Earth, and who, from their network of monster-infested cities under the sea, are trying to manipulate Earth’s human population, so that it can one day supply the technology to get them home again.

Charles Aitken (Peter Gilmore), Greg Collinson (Doug McClure), and the treacherous crew of their expedition ship, are dragged to the bottom of the sea, where they are captured by Atmir and his fish-headed guards, who aim to enslave them, and – due to Charles’ high IQ – make him the brains behind their operation.

During an attack by what look like some kind of plant-eating dinosaurs, and the help of one of the slaves, Delphine, who has already developed the gill-like structures that will prevent her returning to the surface with them, they escape. Atmir sends his fish-men after them, and bombards their diving bell with unspecified explosives, or possibly thunderbolts, but they escape back to the surface.

“Warlords of Atlantis” was filmed on Malta, Gozo Island, and at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, and is generally regarded as one of those B-movies to be enjoyed because it is so preposterous in both concept and execution.


Jacob Milnestein on 2012 Movies

Finding themselves beneath the waves, the crew of the vessel are mystified to encounter a hidden underwater realm, a pocket of oxygen and sunken land surrounded on all sides by the water and various encroaching monsters.

Greeted by Atmir (Michael Gothard), who is dressed almost exactly like one of the Thals from the Peter Cushing Doctor Who films … the survivors learn of the fate of the missing civilisation, and of the remaining crews of countless other lost ships.

Split up from the others, Aitken (Peter Gilmore) is taken before the monarchy of Atlantis and learns that he is to become one with the collective brain that powers their culture … From here, the film takes a momentary break to dwell on the science gone wild trope, as the former captain of the Mary Celeste … reveals the genetic reconfiguration needed to survive beneath the waves for a prolonged amount of time.

The Atlanteans are then revealed as aliens … intent on returning to their home world and predominantly indifferent to humanity save for their use as resources ...

… Warlords is perhaps one of the finest films Amicus left us with. Far from perfect yet still capable of holding its own against anything Hammer put out at the time, this film deserves to be a lot more popular than it actually is.

Full review

MacReady on Love Horror

After attacks by a giant octopus (Thrilling!) and what seems to be the Loch Ness Monster (Heartstopping!), Aitken, the American and the crew are dragged down to the underwater city of Atlantis (Unbelievable!) to meet their fate.

As it turns out, their fate arrives more than a little resembling Flight of the Concords Jemaine Clement’s impersonation of David Bowie. His name is Atmir, and he is a badass. Unsurprisingly Atlantis isn’t the friendliest under the earth and the whole thing turns into one big nightmare from here on in.

The group are split up and enslaved (Boo!), everyone is threatened with gill-related surgery (Hiss!), and the rulers of Atlantis turn out to be little better than Nazis from Mars (Genius!).

Full review


… Another nice addition to the cast is Michael Gothard who is quite adept at playing menacing roles, although his character is not exactly menacing in Warlords of Atlantis he still has that ability to instil a sense of authority as the spokesperson for the Atlantean aliens.

Full review

Shaun Anderson on The Celluloid Highway

Apart from a few unimpressive and stodgy monsters which can barely move, their main threat is the preposterously attired Atmir played by a very embarrassed looking Michael Gothard.

Gothard’s descent into low class and low budget mediocrity in the wake of his startling performance in Herostratus remains one of the most perplexing misuses of a career in film history.

Full review


Shaun Anderson's comment is a back-handed compliment if ever there was one …

Perplexing, it may be, but it was not always easy to get work in the 1970s and 1980s. Oliver Tobias, who starred with Michael in "Arthur of the Britons", has spoken of how he often had to work abroad after that series ended.

In any case, it seems unlikely that Michael Gothard’s gut-wrenching performance in "Herostratus" under Don Levy’s harsh tutelage has provided anywhere near as much genuine enjoyment to cinema audiences, as "low class and low budget" cult favourites such as “Scream and Scream Again”, “Warlords of Atlantis”, or “Lifeforce.”

IMDB entry
From: The Stage, 23 March 1978

The other side of the Roman coin
by Hazel Holt

Murder, rape and pillage are not, perhaps, ideal tea-time fare for children, but these were the facts of life in 1st century Britain and Thames’ Warrior Queen (ITV, Monday March 20, 4.45 pm) is very strong on facts.

This reconstruction by Martin Mellett of the life and times of the Iceni queen Boudicca … has tried to give the feeling of life as it was lived and not merely the romantic story of a female freedom fighter.

… the early British huts, the weapons, tools and artefacts and in the contrasting material tokens of Roman civilisation, [were] all carefully researched and meticulously manufactured and set in carefully chosen locations. This, we are entitled to feel … is approximately what Britain looked around 60 AD.

The contrast is well made between the primitive rituals of the Druid-ridden Britons, led by the priest Volthan (a vital performance by Michael Gothard in a fine selection of animal skins) and the suave brutality of the Romans … At the centre of the drama is Sian Phillips as Boudicca … It is a performance of some stature, giving subtleties of interpretation to a script that is intrinsically straightforward.

Warrior Queen makes an interesting contrast to all the Roman-oriented drama we have been seeing lately, giving us a chance to see the other side of the coin, the less acceptable face of the Pax Romanus.


Greg Jameson on Entertainment Focus

Warrior Queen is shot almost entirely on location, which benefits the production in providing a sense of realism and space … Especially commendable is the innovative use of still photography to depict battle scenes – though they should have gone the whole hog as the choreographed fight sequences are woefully unconvincing.

Interestingly, there’s plenty of blood and direct violence that ends up on screen, including a Druid sacrifice of a bird. Burnt skulls and nightmarish sequences suggest Warrior Queen was aimed at an adult audience.

… The costumes for the tribe of Iceni and the druid Volthan (the late Michael Gothard, probably best remembered as a sidekick baddie in the Bond movie For Your Eyes Only) make a good fist at historical accuracy, though they are predictably far too clean …
In visuals and performances, Warrior Queen is very close to open-air theatre, and completely alien to any drama that may appear contemporarily on the airwaves. Whilst it may not be slick and entirely convincing, Warrior Queen nevertheless unravels a good yarn over two and a half hours of television without patronising the viewer, and assuming a basic working knowledge of Roman history …

The overall verdict is that Warrior Queen is a solid if slightly overambitious serial. What it loses in production values it makes up for in the stellar cast. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable curiosity from the late 1970s, and a decent if flawed stab at bringing a Roman historical drama to the screen.

Full review.


Movie Mail

A spectacular six-part series that brings to life the valiant yet doomed attempt by Boudicca, the widowed Queen of the Iceni tribe of East Anglia, to wrest power from the Romans in first-century Britain. Produced by Ruth Boswell (Timeslip, Tightrope, Shadows), Warrior Queen stars Siân Phillips as the fearless Celtic queen, Nigel Hawthorne as Catus Decianus, the rapacious Roman Procurator, and Michael Gothard as Druid priest Volthan.

Full review.
Warrior Queen was a short historical drama series about Queen Boudicca’s struggle against the Roman occupation. Michael Gothard plays her tribe’s Druid priest Volthan. The Romans have been trying to wipe out the Druids, who were a major thorn in their side, so Volthan has his own reasons for encouraging Boudicca not to give in to their increasingly unreasonable demands for tribute.

Michael is once again cast as a religious leader – some might say ‘fanatic.’ His physical abilities are under-used in this series, where most of the fight scenes are portrayed by still photography. However, he does have some poignant scenes, notably one where he learns of a massacre of his fellow Druids.

The first of the six half-hour episodes aired on Monday 20 Feb 1978.

Patti Love also stars as one of Boudicca’s daughters, Tasca. She had earlier appeared in the minor role of Gladwyn in the ‘Arthur of the Britons’ episode, ‘Rolf the Preacher.’

Researcher Aileen McClintock wrote to some of Michael Gothard’s fellow actors, including Siân Phillips, who played Boudicca, but they could not really tell her anything on the grounds that Michael kept ‘himself to himself’ and didn’t really mix with fellow actors.

Another actor from that series, Darien Angadi, who played Kuno, hanged himself, in 1984.


Greg Jameson on Entertainment Focus

Warrior Queen is shot almost entirely on location, which benefits the production in providing a sense of realism and space … Especially commendable is the innovative use of still photography to depict battle scenes – though they should have gone the whole hog as the choreographed fight sequences are woefully unconvincing.

Interestingly, there’s plenty of blood and direct violence that ends up on screen, including a Druid sacrifice of a bird. Burnt skulls and nightmarish sequences suggest Warrior Queen was aimed at an adult audience.

… The costumes for the tribe of Iceni and the druid Volthan (the late Michael Gothard, probably best remembered as a sidekick baddie in the Bond movie For Your Eyes Only) make a good fist at historical accuracy, though they are predictably far too clean …
In visuals and performances, Warrior Queen is very close to open-air theatre, and completely alien to any drama that may appear contemporarily on the airwaves. Whilst it may not be slick and entirely convincing, Warrior Queen nevertheless unravels a good yarn over two and a half hours of television without patronising the viewer, and assuming a basic working knowledge of Roman history …

The overall verdict is that Warrior Queen is a solid if slightly overambitious serial. What it loses in production values it makes up for in the stellar cast. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable curiosity from the late 1970s, and a decent if flawed stab at bringing a Roman historical drama to the screen.

Full review.

Movie Mail

A spectacular six-part series that brings to life the valiant yet doomed attempt by Boudicca, the widowed Queen of the Iceni tribe of East Anglia, to wrest power from the Romans in first-century Britain. Produced by Ruth Boswell (Timeslip, Tightrope, Shadows), Warrior Queen stars Siân Phillips as the fearless Celtic queen, Nigel Hawthorne as Catus Decianus, the rapacious Roman Procurator, and Michael Gothard as Druid priest Volthan.

Full review.

IMDB entry
See entry on "The Three Musketeers" for background information.

In "The Four Musketeers", Michael Gothard's character, Felton, is charged by the Duke of Buckingham (Simon Ward) with guarding Milady de Winter (Faye Dunaway), because Buckingham mistakenly believes Felton to be impervious to beauty.

Milady convinces Felton that Buckingham is secretly a Catholic, and therefore his enemy, and that she, on the other hand, is of his persuasion; then she seduces him, and persuades him to help her escape.

Still under Milady’s spell, Felton then kills Buckingham, and is immediately apprehended.

Michael Gothard’s performance here, as a righteous man, being gradually lured to his destruction by a manipulative woman, is subtle and compelling.

Asked what Michael considered his best performance, his friend from the 1980s, Sean McCormick, said “I think [Michael] thought that his best work was the ‘Three Musketeers’ or at least it was the best film he had done.” [Presumably he was still thinking of the two films as if they were one.]


DVD Savant – Glenn Erickson

“As D'Artagnan's sidekick, Lester brought along faithful stalwart Roy Kinnear. A blinkered producing decision might have signed up someone like Benny Hill, and thrown the picture off balance. Even a 2nd string role was filled by Michael Gothard (Scream and Scream Again), another clever choice instead of a commercial one.”

Full review

Krell Laboratories

“Dunaway gets the showiest role in the film as the most fatal of femme fatales. She gets an entire sequence to herself to corrupt the puritan gaoler [Felton, played by Michael Gothard] provided her by Buckingham and, boy howdy, does she make the most of it.”
Full review

Review on “Audio Video Revolution”

IMDB entry
During 1973, having been noticed by the Director Richard Lester, Michael Gothard was cast in the minor role of Puritan, John Felton in a “project” produced by Ilya and Alexander Salkind, “The Three Musketeers.”

The enterprise was to prove controversial, because enough footage was shot to make two films, “The Four Musketeers” being the second one. It seems that the Salkinds always intended to make two films for the price of one, because they used the word “project” in the actors’ contracts, rather than “film.” They were nevertheless sued by some of the actors, and had to pay them more money, though not as much as if they had originally contracted them for two films.

This resulted in the “Salkind Clause” being included in all Screen Actors Guild contracts, stipulating how many films are being made.

Speculation: this may have been the incident which made Michael Gothard an active union supporter, as witnessed by the appearance of his name in “The Stage” among other Equity members supporting their union’s actions in the 1980s, when under attack by Margaret Thatcher’s government.

In September/October 1973, during filming, at Estudios Cinematografica Roma S.A., the film centre outside Madrid, Michael was interviewed by Jerry Bauer for “Petticoat” magazine.

“The Three Musketeers and I seem to have an affinity for each other. In this film version I portray Felton, the lover of Madame de Winter – Faye Dunaway but on television, I was Madame de Winter’s son in yet another dramatisation. Presumably, I was chosen by Richard Lester for this role because he’d seen me as the inquisitioner in The Devils. Both characters are repressed, violent and mad.”

Full "Petticoat" interview

Michael only appears briefly in the first film, 'The Thee Musketeers', in attendance to the Duke of Buckingham (Simon Ward), whom he kills in the 'The Four Musketeers', having been deceived by Milady de Winter (Faye Dunaway).

Joss Ackland, who had appeared as D'Artagnan in the 1967 TV series, "The Further Adventures of The Musketeers", in which Michael Gothard played Mordaunt, appears as D'Artagnan's father in "The Three Musketeers."


Black Hole

The director of photography is David Watkin who'd filmed The Devils two years earlier. I think Ken Russell's approach informed the look, approach and even casting of the two musketeers films, which re-use Oliver Reed and Michael Gothard (also the vampire villain in Scream and Scream Again).

Full review

AV Forums review

The Movie Scene review

IMDB entry

Television Heaven

This excellent children's television series was a muddy and realistic version of the King Arthur legend which depicted Arthur (Oliver Tobias) as a struggling 6th century warlord, battling to unite the fragmented Celtic tribes into a cohesive fighting unit that could effectively oppose the Saxon invaders who were arriving in Britain in growing numbers.

This was King Arthur as he might have been ... Assisted and guided by Llud, The Silver Hand, his adoptive father and Kai, his foster brother, who is himself a Saxon foundling, 'Arthur of The Britons' stripped away the elaborate medieval view of Camelot and provided the viewer with a thoughtful and fascinating insight into the Arthurian legend.

Full review.

Cult TV

Arthur is the war chieftain of a tribe of Celts who has his eye on the bigger picture - unification of the tribes in the face of the Saxon threat. Assisted by his adoptive father, Llud, and Saxon friend, Kai, he has his hands full keeping the peace with opposition from the various feuding factions as well as his duplicitous cousin, Mark of Cornwall.

Starring Oliver Tobias ... as Arthur, leader of the Britons, this 1972-1973 swashbuckling adventure series from HTV also stars Jack Watson and Michael Gothard as his compatriots Llud and Kai, Brian Blessed (I, Claudius) as Mark of Cornwall and an impressive guest cast ...

Full review.

Grant on The Angriest

Even 38 years later it feels like a completely fresh take on the Arthurian legend, creating the sort of “the real Arthur” mystique that the 2005 Jerry Bruckheimer film could only dream of …

The series starred Oliver Tobias as Arthur, alongside Jack Watson as his adoptive father Llud and Michael Gothard as his right-hand man Kai. As far as I can find out Arthur was Tobias’ biggest role, although he did appear in a number of films and TV dramas ... Jack Watson was a mainstay of British film and television … Meanwhile Michael Gothard is probably best known for playing Emile Leopold Locque in For Your Eyes Only (1981), as well as appearances in The Devils (1971) and The Three Musketeers (1973) ...

The first episode of Arthur of the Britons … begins with Arthur and Kai racing each other on horseback. It’s a surprising scene, primarily because it lacks a musical score. This gives the episode an unexpectedly contemporary feel, which is something that keeps returning sporadically through the episode …

The climax of the episode is, for a 1970s children’s drama, unexpectedly violent, as the combined Celtic forces fend off a small Saxon invasion. The episode even manages to include some unexpected plot twists and turns.

Full review.
Alexander Stuart in Films and Filming 1975

The Valley Obscured by Clouds reaches us more than two years after it was made (and it was anachronistic then). It is a dream about a dream, and sensually it is an exquisitely beautiful dream …
Read more... )
We have heard arguments both defending and attacking the dream of returning to nature in dialogue that – in the subtitles at least – frequently seems pretentious, but which is rescued by the excellent performances of the cast, especially Bulle Ogier and Michael Gothard. So we are left to make up our own minds. Do we want to find the valley? More important still … do we want to search for it?

Full review:
part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4

John Williams in Films Illustrated

... Two men and two women … about to explore the mountainous wastes of Papua New Guinea in search of a hidden valley … are joined by the wife of the French Consul in Melbourne who for no reason than it suits the film’s pretensions, is after the tail feathers of the rare, lesser bird of paradise.

… They discover lots of things about each other on the way … they discover that they are really not very nice people at all, and that the local tribes (whose only contact with civilisation is the aeroplane and the missionary) have much more to offer.

It’s really a load of pretentious nonsense, a sort of hymn to Eastern-inspired hippy ideology about loss of innocence and the search for the final truth to end all doubts.

… Apart from its looks, "The Valley" can justly boast a very honest and sympathetic performance by Michael Gothard as the disciple who tries to persuade Mme Ogier that there’s more to living than scavenging for bird feathers. His is the act which matches the aboriginal humanity of the tribes. Mr Schroeder should be grateful to both.

Full review:
part 1
part 2

Peter Fuller in Movie Talk

Thanks to cheap air travel, an ever-shrinking world, and our spirit for adventure, many of us have the opportunity to escape our humdrum lives – either briefly or for extended periods. But, on seeing this allegorical tale about a woman’s journey of self-discovery, I got a bit of a wake-up call. The Valley may have been made 40 years ago, but its themes still resonate.
Read more... )

Images Movie Journal

Vivian (Bulle Ogier) seems an unlikely candidate for a spiritual explorer on a quest for Paradise. She's a quintessential early 1970's material girl, who defines her sense of self by the things she has acquired: a diplomat husband, pressing social obligations, access to government chateaus, a dog named Nouki, and a Parisian boutique.

Her desire to acquire feathers from the Kamul, the Bird of Paradise, launches her on the journey. To Vivian the feathers represent another link in the chain of rare, beautiful things which she must possess. The desire to possess the feathers verges on the sexual, as underscored by the scene where Olivier (Michael Gothard) shows her a Kamul feather in a communal tent shared by his fellow travelers.
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Anet Maslin in The New York Times: May 17, 1981

The beginning of Barbet Schroeder's ''The Valley Obscured by Clouds'' finds Viviane (Bulle Ogier) wearing a trim little dress and high heels, traipsing elegantly through the jungle as only a chic Frenchwoman can. The bored wife of a diplomat stationed in Melbourne, she is in New Guinea to buy feathers, which she sells to a Paris boutique.

In the trading post where she is first seen, she encounters the blond, bare-chested Olivier (Michael Gothard), who claims to know where some fine feathers can be found. He seems to be making a few other claims too, but it is only the feathers that he mentions. Anyhow, Viviane soon embarks, with Olivier and several very solemn, self-important hippies who are his friends, on a journey into the wilderness. They are in search, respectively, of feathers and truth …
Read more... )

Glenn Erickson on DVD Savant

At last, a vintage 'trippy' film with some guts. The entire 'head trip' subgenre of late 60s / early 70s has a real credibility problem. Most of the films that seriously invited us to consider dropping out into a more mellow plane of existence now appear exploitative, naive or laughable …
Read more... )

Fernando F. Croce on Cinepassion

Half druggy road trip, half ethnographic study, Barbet Schroeder's eco-mystical adventure … traces a cultural movement's trek back to the Garden. Bulle Ogier is a French consul's wife, stranded in a New Guinea isle, looking for artifacts for her Paris boutique before hooking up with a gang of hippified travelers (led by Jean-Pierre Kalfon) on their way to find the off-limits valley, whose heavy mists have kept it a blank spot in maps -- "Paradise."
Read more... )

Michael Wilmington

The Valley was shot in 1971. It had its European release in the early Seventies (the soundtrack album, composed and performed by Pink Floyd, was a huge British hit in 1972), and so this relatively delayed American release - some eight years late - makes the film seem unduly anachronistic: a naïve relic of the mystique of high hippiedom, somehow washed ashore on the strobe-lit, mercantile, Bloomingdales' beaches of 1979.
Read more... )

Richard T. Jameson on Parallax View, originally published in Movietone News 51, August 1976

… The bored wife of a New Guinea–based diplomat leaves the capital long enough to scout up some exotic feathers for the world of haute couture, learns of a likelier source farther from civilization, and ends by disappearing into a white area on the map in quest of Paradise …

The first peopled shot to come onscreen—the bored wife (Bulle Ogier) and a half-loony storekeeper dickering over prices in a timbered outpost of progress—is too vast on the wide screen to justify its framing as dramatic event, but in its very ungainliness seems to promise that there are possibilities to be sensed out and tried.
Read more... )
Full review

Further reviews:
Digitally Obsessed
Digital Bits – the Bottom Shelf by Adam Jahnke
From: DVD Savant

… there are a lot of uneven elements in the mix of this nicely-produced melodrama. Ralph Richardson's mountebank is colorful, and Lionel Jeffries and Hugh Griffith are perfectly fine in bits, but none of them are central to the core story.

When menacing butler Michael Gothard disappears from the tale, we expect him to turn up later, even as a corpse, but he doesn't.

Full review

From: Cinema de Merde

… this movie takes place in a more naïve world in which orphanages allow ten of their children to go spend the night with a strange woman in a strange house. This would be Shelley’s annual Christmas party. Christopher and Katy are not invited, but sneak along, are soon discovered [by the butler fellow who likes to terrorize kids for fun], and invited to join the festivities …

The kids are locked up. They escape. Christopher gets free. He’s locked up again …

Somewhere in here the butler demands money from Shelley or he’ll tell the police that she’s kidnapped a girl, which causes Shelley, in a really dumb reaction shot, to glance to her left to demonstrate “nefarious plotting.”

The butler also cruelly tells her that she’s a dupe for their ruse during the séances, and his evil glee is one of the few beacons of dull interest. But he’s soon gone.

Full review

From: Film Fanatic

Meanwhile, other plot elements — such as the presence of Winters’ manipulative butler (Michael Gothard) working in cahoots with a sham medium (Ralph Richardson) to convince Winters her daughter is communicating with her — are poorly resolved.

Full review

From: Fright Xmas

… Mrs. Forrest has held regular séances to try and contact her daughter … but her servants, a butler and maid (nicely played by Michael Gothard and Judy Cornwell) are a nasty pair it transpires …

(Alan-Bertaneisson Jones. Fright Xmas. AuthorHouse, 2010.)

Review on Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings – David Sindelar

Review on Wildside Cinema



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October 2013

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